What is a Granny Flat?

Many people want to know ‘what is a granny flat’? It is a small self-contained home, usually with one or two bedrooms.

Although classified as a separate dwelling for one or two people, the building is considered a secondary suite to the primary home. Commonly found in the backyard or at the rear of a property. In some cases, depending on local council policies, some granny flats can be considered an extension of the primary home if they have a substantial covered-in walkway which is attached to the primary building and the granny flat; which can increase the primary home’s value.

The term ‘Granny Flat’ is predominantly used in Australia, New Zealand and Britain; elsewhere it is called a guest house, in-law suite or a small apartment.


Most are used as a form of housing for aging family members (parents or grandparents) as they create a unique lifestyle where elderly people can continue living independently, yet have the security and companionship of having family close by.

The other main uses include –

for investors to gain profits by using granny flats for rent,
for teenagers to increase their independence,What is a granny flat?
as extra living area for larger families,
accommodation for extended family,
as guest houses for visitors,
for first home owners,
self contained office, or
purely as an investment.

Standard Features

Small and compact in size.
Kitchen or kitchenette.
Bathroom or ensuite.
Lounge area.
Dining area.
Laundry (some incorporated into bathroom area).

Optional Extras

Because the fundamental nature of the dwelling is to cater to elderly, extra additions are commonly used for safety and to increase quality of life for people who are elderly or disabled. Some include –

ramps upon entry and exit for wheelchairs or ease of access,
wet rooms (in place of bathroom) for people with disabilities,
verandahs,What is a granny flat disabled bathroom
covered-in porch (sun-room),
wider doorways,
heating/cooling, and
connection to utilities.

Council Requirements

Council must approve the planning to have a granny flat built on the property first, the process can take a number of weeks and in some cases months.

A ‘sleep-out’ is a granny flat with no kitchen or food preparation areas (known as an ‘extra room’) and can be built as a detached addition as opposed to an extension to the primary home.

New or second-hand?

Upon Council approval for granny flats, a granny flat can be purchased and positioned on a block of land. Select granny flat building process to learn more information about the building journey when buying new or used.

Manufacturers – Building New

Australia has almost 400 granny flat builders and although each have a unique style, most of them will customise to meet client requirements. Click granny flats manufacturers directory to see a list of manufacturers list by State in Australia.

what is a granny flat factoryManufacturers can build anything from a plain open-plan single bedroom studio design on a modest budget, to a top of the range model fitted with exceptional fittings and fixtures with no expense spared. Building a unique small home starts with clear answers to the questions, “What is a granny flat to you? What features do you image it to have and what do you envisage it should look like?”

Granny flats can also be built using traditional methods; built on-site, too.

Buying Second-hand

Buying used granny flats can be a cheaper option (see granny flats for sale) and can be purchased for removal at the buyers expense; see transporting a granny flat. Other costs include connection to utilities for granny flats, crane hire, and the hiring of local tradesmen if located remotely.

Of course DIY – Granny flat can reduce costs, provide control of the project and give a sense of achievement for those who buy second-hand and want to renovate, or purchase new but to lock-up only and save money by doing the interior themselves.

For more information regarding costs, go to granny flat prices.


Many people prefer to rent a granny flat as it offers additional security, especially for single people. Property owners offer their small dwelling for rent in either the local newspaper, online or via a local real estate agency. Renting of these small homes is under the same conditions as a standard rental agreement and a bond is payable. Note: Most do not come with a car garage and vehicles belonging to the occupant might have access to a carport but there may only be parking on the street available. See granny flats to rent for in-depth information.


Granny flats offer investors an increasingly attractive opportunity to earn rental profits. The option to put a small self-contained home in the backyard of existing properties in an investors property portfolio (see invest in granny flats) tends to be cheaper than the investment required to build a new house on land or purchase an existing house for the same rental profit gained. Also, the added value of the home increases the price of the property.


Granny flats can be put in any location; like a traditionally built home. Most are on flat land so the ease of access is suitable for elderly or disabled tenants. However, building on slopes or even hills (as a pole house) is not unheard of when a granny flat is used as a guest house and positioned to optimise views.

Transportation, Hydraulics, Jacks and Cranes

New and used granny flats can be lifted by crane onto a large flat-deck truck and freighted from point A to point B. Alternatively, transport operators can use hydraulic trailers and heavy-duty hydraulic jacking tools to position the dwelling, if not craned.

Majority of these types of homes are approximately 4.5 meters wide to reduce additional costs (like pilot vehicles for traffic), and to reduce potential problems caused by over-sized loads when moving (like bridges, sign posts and right-angle corners in the road).what is a granny flat - crane placing into position

For people requiring a granny flat in the backyard that has no access; it may be possible to have a crane lift the building up and over the primary home and position it in the backyard from the roadside in some cases.

Freedom of choice

Granny Flats utilise the exact same building materials as traditionally built homes; from roofing to flooring, wall-paneling to door options. This enables a granny flat to match the primary dwelling on the property if needed, to be more aesthetically pleasing and uniform. Fireplaces, walk-in pantries, walk-in robes, conservatories and other customised features are all available.

Environmentally friendly

Any form of transportable home is regarded as kinder to the environment eco-friendly granny flats. This is due to the building being placed on the land in a single day in normal circumstances. Typically, tradesmen take up to two weeks to ‘finish’ a granny flat on site; hence less damage to the flora and fauna when compared to traditionally built homes having several tradesmen on-site for 3 – 10 months.

Another major plus for this type of building is the foundation. Normally a series of posts, concreted into the ground; reducing the impact on the land.

Lifestyle Villages

A demand for modern Granny flats in gated communities for people aged over 55 years of age has increased as the population ages. In these safe communities there are a myriad of appealing facilities including tennis courts, club houses, barbecue areas, swimming pools and more. Lifestyle villages are also known as ‘over 55’s villages’.

Granny flats Australia wide are becoming more and more popular as granny flat designs break new and exciting ground with visually appealing designs using practical and innovative granny flat plans.

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